Dark designs and visual culture / Michele Wallace.

by Wallace, MicheleLooking glass.

Publisher: Durham, N.C. : Duke University Press, 2005.Description: 511 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.ISBN: 0822334135; 0822334275.Subject(s): Wallace, MicheleLooking glass | African American artsLooking glass | African American womenLooking glass | Feminism -- United StatesLooking glass | Popular culture -- United States -- History -- 20th centuryLooking glassNote: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Item type Home library Collection Class number Status Date due Barcode Item reservations
Long loan London College of Fashion
Main collection
Printed books 305.48 WAL (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Available 93287542
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Michele Wallace burst into public consciousness with the 1979 publication of Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman , a pioneering critique of the misogyny of the Black Power movement and the effects of racism and sexism on black women. Since then, Wallace has produced an extraordinary body of journalism and criticism engaging with popular culture and gender and racial politics. This collection brings together more than fifty of the articles she has written over the past fifteen years. Included alongside many of her best-known pieces are previously unpublished essays as well as interviews conducted with Wallace about her work. Dark Designs and Visual Culture charts the development of a singular, pathbreaking black feminist consciousness.

Beginning with a new introduction in which Wallace reflects on her life and career, this volume includes other autobiographical essays; articles focused on popular culture, the arts, and literary theory; and explorations of issues in black visual culture. Wallace discusses growing up in Harlem; how she dealt with the media attention and criticism she received for Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman , which was published when she was just twenty-seven years old; and her relationship with her family, especially her mother, the well-known artist Faith Ringgold. The many articles devoted to black visual culture range from the historical tragedy of the Hottentot Venus, an African woman displayed as a curiosity in nineteenth-century Europe, to films that sexualize the black body--such as Watermelon Woman , Gone with the Wind , and Paris Is Burning . Whether writing about the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, rap music, the Million Man March, Toshi Reagon, multiculturalism, Marlon Riggs, or a nativity play in Bedford Stuyvesant, Wallace is a bold, incisive critic. Dark Designs and Visual Culture brings the scope of her career and thought into sharp focus.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Part I The Autobiographical: 1989 through 2001
  • 1 Whose Town? Questioning Community and Identity
  • 2 Places I've Lived
  • 3 Engaging and Escaping in 1994
  • 4 To Hell and Back: On the Road with Black Feminism in the '60s and '70s
  • 5 Censorship and Self-Censorship
  • 6 An Interview
  • Part II Mass Culture and Popular Journalism
  • 7 Watching Arsenio
  • 8 Black Stereotypes in Hollywood Films: "I Don't Know Nothin' 'Bout Birthin' No Babies!"
  • 9 When Black Feminism Faces the Music, and the Music Is Rap
  • 10 Storytellers: The Thomas-Hill Affair
  • 11 Talking about the Gulf
  • 12 Beyond Assimilation
  • 13 "Why Won't Women Relate to 'Justice'": Losing Her Voice
  • 14 For Whom the Bell Tolls: Why Americans Can't Deal with Black Feminist Intellectuals
  • 15 Miracle in East New York
  • Part III New York Postmodernism and Black Cultural Studies
  • 16 The Politics of Location: Cinema/Theory/Literature/Ethnicity/Sexuality/Me
  • 17 Black Feminist Criticism: A Politics of Location and Beloved
  • 18 Why Are There No Great Black Artists? The Problem of Visuality in African American Culture
  • 19 High Mass
  • 20 Symposium on Intellectual Correctness
  • 21 The Culture War within the Culture Wars
  • 22 Boyz N the Hood and Jungle Fever
  • Part IV Multiculturalism in the Arts
  • 23 Race, Gender, and Psychoanalysis in Forties Films
  • 24 Multicultural Blues: An Interview with Michele Wallace
  • 25 Multiculturalism and Oppositionality
  • 26 Black Women in Popular Culture: From Stereotype to Heroine
  • 27 The Search for the Good Enough Mammy: Multiculturalism, Popular Culture, and Psychoanalysis
  • Part V Henry Louis Gates and African American Poststructuralism
  • 28 Henry Louis Gates: A Race Man and a Scholar
  • 29 If You Can't Join 'Em, Beat 'Em: Stanley Crouch and Shaharazad Ali
  • 30 Let's Get Serious: Marching with the Million
  • 31 Out of Step with the Million Man March
  • 32 Neither Fish nor Fowl: The Crisis of African American Gender Relations
  • 33 The Problem with Black Masculinity and Celebrity
  • 34 The Fame Game
  • 35 Skip Gates's Africa
  • Part VI Queer Theory and Visual Culture
  • 36 Defacing History
  • 37 When Dream Girls Grow Old
  • 38 The French Collection
  • 39 Modernism, Postmodernism, and the Problem of the Visual in Afro-American Culture
  • 40 A Fierce Flame: Marlon Riggs
  • 41 "Harlem on My Mind"
  • 42 Questions on Feminism
  • 43 Feminism, Race, and the Division of Labor
  • 44 Doin' the Right Thing: Ten Years after She's Gotta Have It
  • 45 The Gap Alternative
  • 46 Art on My Mind
  • 47 Pictures Can Lie
  • 48 The Hottentot Venus
  • 49 Angels in America, Paris is Burning, and Queer Theory
  • 50 Toshi Reagon's Birthday
  • 51 Cheryl Dunye: Sexin' the Watermelon
  • 52 The Prison House of Culture: Why African Art? Why the Guggenheim? Why Now?
  • 53 Black Female Spectatorship
  • 54 Bamboozled: The Archive
  • Index

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

A trenchant commentator on race, gender, media, and art (and daughter of artist Faith Ringgold, who figures strongly in her work), cultural critic Wallace was 26 when her book Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (1979) announced her distinctive feminist voice and bold, confrontational style. These qualities are much in evidence in her new work, which assesses racist/sexist elements in popular culture, claims space for black feminists, and examines blackness and the visual arts. Included are over 50 articles, addresses, and interviews, written between 1989 and 2003 and in some cases not previously published, that encompass autobiography, literary and cultural theory, and critiques of films, performances, and other cultural phenomena. Wallace reviles all that enables racism and misogyny and has harsh words for those who, in her view, limit or misrepresent black intellectual and cultural discourse. Provocative and thoughtful, this compilation is recommended for academic libraries that serve programs in women's studies, African American studies, or the study of media and culture.-Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Worthington Libs., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Wallace (CUNY) is best known for writing Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (1978), but she has been contributing her own brand of black feminist thought to a variety of publications in the years since. This volume functions as both a collection of those many writings and a look into Wallace's life. She begins her autobiographical introduction with a discussion of her precarious health, lending to the book a sense that this is her assessment of her life's work. Ranging from short essays written for the Village Voice to traditional academic articles published in Renaissance Noire to a talk for Rutgers University, the writing is energetic, direct, and thoughtful. Wallace explores a large number of themes in her writing, but she returns always to issues of African American identity in the visual arts, to the status of African American women, and to political trends within academia. The autobiographical background is doubly interesting because it sheds light also on Wallace's mother, artist Faith Ringgold. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All collections supporting film or African American studies. J. Tharp University of Wisconsin Colleges

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Michele Wallace is Visiting Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University. She is the author of Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory and Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman . She has written for numerous popular and scholarly publications, including The Village Voice , The New York Times , Emerge , Aperture , Ms. , October , and Renaissance Noire .